With the NHL draft hoping to be done in about a month, it’s time to begin flashing back to the Flyers’ draft classes in the past two decades. In the second installment of Philly Sports Network’s Where Are They Now Draft Series, we take a look at the 2001 NHL draft, and the path these players took in or out of the NHL.
The Flyers had one pick in the first three rounds of the draft, but it just so happened to be the number four overall. They had two more picks in the fourth round, two in the sixth, and one per round in the fifth and seventh. The 2002 draft was a mixed bag in terms of prospects working out or not. Let’s take a look at how it all panned out.
First Round – Joni Pitkanen
With that fourth overall pick, the Flyers took stud defender Joni Pitkanen from the Liiga. Pitkanen would spend one more year in the Liiga after being drafted, then he made the jump to the NHL. His first season was spent with the Flyers, but the next was spent down in the AHL. That next season, 2005/06, he was back with Philadelphia in the NHL. He played that season and the next, but ended up being part of a deal with the Edmonton Oilers to acquire Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith.
Pitkanen spent one season with the Oilers before being traded, exactly one year to the date, to the Carolina Hurricanes for Erik Cole, straight up. Pitkanen spent the next six season from 2008-2014 with the Canes before taking a year off from hockey. He returned the next year, but for Karpat in the Liiga. It would be his swan song, as he retired after that season.
Pitkanen went his entire career without playing a full 82-game schedule in the NHL. The oft-injured Pitkanen was a truly effective defenseman when he was healthy, but sustained a plethora of injuries over his 11 year NHL career.
Fourth Round – Rosario Ruggeri & Konstantin Baranov
With the 105th overall selection in the 2002 draft, the Flyers chose Rosario Ruggeri out of the QMJHL. Ruggeri played for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, and played two more seasons with them after being drafted before attempting the jump to the NHL. In those two seasons, the defensive prospect amassed 95 points in 135 games, leading people to believe he could be a decent defenseman for the Flyers down the road.
From 2004 until 2007, three seasons, Ruggeri spent a majority of his time playing ECHL hockey with the Trenton Titans. He played only 22 AHL games with the Philadelphia Phantoms. In 2007, he played for the Lowell Devils in the AHL. The very next year, he split time between Lowell and the ECHL affiliate Trenton Devils.
Ruggeri spent 2009 to 2011 playing overseas in Italy. At the end of the 2010/11 season, Ruggeri officially retired, never playing a single NHL game in his hockey career.
Konstantin Baranov was chosen 21 picks later at 125 out of Russia. He played for Avangard Omsk when he was drafted. Baranov never made the jump the NHL, much like many Russian prospects. He played in Russia from the time he was drafted until the end of the 2015/16 season. He then joined a league in Kazakhstan, and has been playing there ever since.
Fifth Round – Dov Grumet-Morris
Perhaps the most interesting name and career of the Flyers draft in 2002 is Dov Grumet-Morris. Grumet-Morris was taken at 161 overall out of Harvard. He would play three more years in the Ivy League before attempting the jump to the pros. Instead of heading to the NHL/AHL, he opted for the Central Hockey League, where he suited up for the Laredo Bucks.
In 2006/07, he spent a majority of the year with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL, but also played for three AHL teams on a loan. In 2007/08, he again spent a majority of his season with Cincinnati in the ECHL, but played nine games with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.
By 2008/09, Grumet-Morris was headed overseas. He inked a deal with a team in the EBEL, but also played in Slovenia for the next two years. By 2010/11 he was back in North America, playing ECHL hockey with the Greenville Road Warriors and AHL hockey with the Connecticut Whales. The very next year, he was back overseas, this time in Norway.
The stint in Norway was short-lived, as he returned to North America that same season with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL. He played three seasons with San Antonio before playing a few with the Hartford Wolf Pack, one with Milwaukee, and one last one with the Iowa Wild. He took a season off between his tenure with Hartford and Iowa, but Grumet-Morris retired having never tasted the NHL, and not playing a single game in his final year as a goalie in hockey.
Sixth Round – Nikita Korovkin & Joey Mormina
The Flyers once again had a pair of picks in the same round. With the 192nd overall selection, they chose Nikita Korovkin from the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL. Following the 2002 draft, Korovkin spent the next two seasons in juniors before jumping to the ECHL with the San Diego Gulls in 2004. From 2005 to 2007, Korovkin played for three ECHL teams in two seasons before returning to the homeland.
Upon returning home to Russia, Korovkin played seven seasons from 2007 to 2014, with six of them being in the KHL. At the end of the 2013/14 season, Korovkin retired from professional hockey, never having tasted NHL time.
The very next pick in the 2002 NHL draft belonged to the Flyers, and they selected Joey Mormina out of Colgate University. Mormina completed his four years with the Colgate program, and jumped to the AHL right after.
Mormina played his entire career in the AHL, suiting up for the likes of the Manchester Monarchs, Albany River Rats, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Adirondack Phantoms, Syracuse Crunch, and the Rochester Americans. He played one NHL game for the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2007/2008 campaign, but never returned to the NHL during the remaining time he spent playing hockey. Mormina retired at the end of the 2015/16 season.
Seventh Round – Mathieu Brunelle
With their final selection in the 2002 draft, the Flyers chose Mathieu Brunelle at 201 overall. Brunelle came to the Flyers from the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. Brunelle played one more year in the “Q” after being drafted, then made the jump the the pros.
From 2003 until 2006, three seasons, Brunelle played mostly in the ECHL. During the 2006/07 campaign, Brunelle split time between three leagues, the UHL, LNAH, and the QSCHL. He played exclusively for the LNAH the very next season before jumping to a different league.
From 2008 until 2011, Brunelle played hockey in France. He played there for three seasons before rejoining the LNAH. He’s played nine seasons there, including the current season. Brunelle continues to play in the LNAH to this date.
Mandatory Credit – © Lou Capozzola-USA TODAY Sports